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DVD/Blu-ray DISCussion (New for 3.15.11)

There is one clear purchase-worthy option new to DVD and Blu-ray releases this week: The Fighter. Winning two Best Supporting Actor Oscars, The Fighter was popular with audiences, critics and of course, us PAMers. It is a fine addition to a long list of great boxing films. If you are looking for something more foreign and arty, however, there are critical darlings Au Revoir les Enfants and Yi Yi coming onto Blu-ray. 

First Releases

The Fighter (DVD and Blu-ray)
Hereafter (DVD and Blu-ray)
The Switch(DVD and Blu-ray)

Re-Releases
BMX Bandits (DVD and Blu-ray)
Au Revoir les Enfants (Blu-ray)
Yi Yi (Blu-ray)
Battle of the Warriors (Blu-ray)


The Fighter
(DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
The Fighter was a passion project for Mark Wahlberg, taking four years to make, spending $500,000 more then his fee on training and having Martin Scorsese rejecting the project and Darren Aronofsky leaving to make Black Swan. And in the end it was a Pyrrhic victory for Wahlberg because despite The Fighter earning six Oscar nominations, not one was for himself. It was great for Christian Bale and Melissa Leo, however, who one Best Supporting Actor and Actress. David O. Russell (Three Kings) earned himself a Oscar nod for best director, but can we honestly say his direction was more deserving of a nomination to say Christopher Nolan?

The Fighter is a biopic of Micky Ward (Wahlberg), an Irish-American boxer from Lowell, Massachusetts who has not yet made it in the big time. His family holds him up but also back; his mother Alice (Leo) is his manager and half-brother Dicky Eklund (Bale) is his trainer and a crack addict. But when Micky meets his new girlfriend, barmaid Charlene Fleming (Amy Adams), Micky is able to see a valuable outside perspective and thusly a chance to become the World Welterweight champion.

Critic Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 90% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 8.4/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Feature Film (with Commentary by Director David O. Russell); The Warriors Code: Filming The Fighter

Additional Blu-ray Special Features: DISC 1: Keeping the Faith HD; Deleted Scenes (with optional commentary*) HD; DISC 2 (Combo Pack): DVD Feature Film (English Only); Digital Copy

Amazon Price: $14.99 (DVD), $19.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content: 4 stars, Video 4 stars, Audio 4.5 stars, Extras 4.5 stars, Replay 4 stars (out of 5). Highly Recommended.

Hereafter (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
On paper, Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg and Peter Morgan should have been a cinematic dream team. Unfortunately, their film Hereafter did not impress critics and was mostly ignored during the awards season (only earning an Oscar nomination for Best Visual Effects). The film stars Matt Damon, Cecile de France (Mesrine: Killer Instinct), Bryce Dallas Howard and twins, Frankie and George McLaren.

Set in the cities of San Francesco, London and Paris, Hereafter focuses on three characters who have suffered with the afterlife. George (Damon) is a blue-collar worker who has a connection to the afterlife world, which he sees as a curse rather then a blessing, Marcus (the McLarens), a London schoolboy who lost his twin brother and Marie, a French journalist who has a suffered a near-death experience.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 46% (average)
Player Affinity Score: 4.1/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Tsunami! Recreating a Disaster; Hereafter’s Locations – Casting the Silent Characters

Additional Blu-ray Special Features: Clint on Casting; Delving into the Hereafter; Twin Bonding; French Speaking French; Why The White Light?; Hereafter’s Locations; “Casting” the Silent Characters; The Eastwood Experience; The Eastwood Factor: 90 minute documentary in HD

Amazon Price: $13.99 (DVD), $18.49 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

The Switch (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
There was a very strange trend in cinema 2010: artificial insemination and other non-procreating forms of parentage. We saw this with The Back-up Plan and Life as we Know It and The Switch was final part of this “comic” trilogy. The Switch, which was considered the best of these films, stars rom-com specialist Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Patrick Wilson, Juliette Lewis and Jeff Goldblum. It marked the directing debut of Josh Gordon and Will Speck (Blades of Glory) adapts Allan Leob’s (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps) script for us.

Kassie (Aniston) is an unmarried woman who decides to have a child through artificial insemination, despite her best friend Wally (Bateman) believing this is a horrible idea. But after Wally flushes away Kassie’s preferred sperm, Wally has to (for lack of a better phase) donate his own specimen. Seven years later, Wally meets Kassie again with her child (Thomas Robinson) who looks remarkably like Wally — imagine that.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 52% (average)
Player Affinity Score: 6.5/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Deleted scenes; “The Switch Conceived” – behind-the-scenes featurette

Additional Blu-ray Special Features: Alternate ending with introduction by the directors; Additional deleted scenes with introduction by the directors; Bloopers

Amazon Price: $15.99 (DVD), $19.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content: 4 stars, Video 4 stars, Audio 4 stars, Extras 3.5 stars, Replay 4 stars (out of 5). Highly Recommended.

BMX Bandits (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
The Australian children’s film BMX Bandits is most well-known for being Nicole Kidman’s acting debut as a plucky Aussie teenager. Anglo-Australian director Brain Trenchard-Smith (Flipper TV Series) took on the project about two BMX experts, P.J. (Angelo D’Angelo) and Goose (James Lugton) and their friend Judy (Nicole Kidman) who are chased by a group of bank robbers across Sydney after they find some police walkie-talkies. Quentin Tarrantino has stated this film is his favourite Kidman performance after The Others.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): N/A
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Audio commetary with dierctor Brian Trenchard-Smith; BMX Buddies: featurette with cast & crew (40 mins.); Nicole Kidman on Young Talent Time ; Theatrical trailer

Amazon Price: $17.99 (DVD), $24.49 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): .Content: 4 stars, Video 4 stars, Audio 3.5 stars, Extras 5 stars, Replay 5 stars (out of 5). Highly Recommended.

Au Revoir Les Enfant (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Au Revoir Les Enfants (also known as “Goodbye Children”) is one of Louis Malle’s most well known films, which is even more impressive because a number of his films have done very well in the European festival circuit. Au Revoir Les Enfants won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and was nominated for Best Original Screenplay and Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards.

Set in a Catholic boarding school during World War II in Vichy France, Au Revoir Les Enfants focuses on a 12-year-old boy, Julien Quentin (Gaspard Manesse), and a new student, Jean (Raphael Fejto). The boys are rivals at first before coming friends, but Jean has a secret that he has to hide from the priests and the Gestapo.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 96% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Restored digital transfer, supervised by director of photography Renato Berta, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack; Video interviews with biographer Pierre Billard and actress Candice Bergen, director Louis Malle’s widow; Joseph: A Character Study, a profile of the provocative character from Au revoir les enfants; The Immigrant, Charlie Chaplin’s 1917 short comedy, featured in the film; Audio excerpts from a 1988 AFI interview with Malle; Original theatrical trailer and teaser; PLUS: A book featuring essays by film critic Philip Kemp and historian Francis J. Murphy

Amazon Price: $27.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content: 5 stars, Video 3.5 stars, Audio 4 stars, Extras 3.5 stars, Replay 4.5 stars (out of 5). Highly Recommended.

Yi Yi (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
The other major award-winning re-release this week is the Taiwanese film Yi Yi (or in English “A One and A Two). Directed by Edward Yang, Yi Yi premiered at Cannes in 2000 and it won awards ranging from Best Director at Cannes to the Netpac Award and was on many critics top 10 lists in 2000.

Yi Yi is a family drama where the events show how different challenges affect an ordinary family in Taipei. These events include an upcoming wedding, a grandmother’s illness, a father on the edge of bankruptcy and a teenage girl about to experience love for the first time.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 96% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Newly restored digital transfer, with DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack; Audio commentary by writer-director Edward Yang and Asian-cinema critic Tony Rayns; Video interview with Rayns about Yang and the New Taiwan Cinema movement; U.S. theatrical trailer; Original English subtitle translation by Yang and Rayns PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film writer Kent Jones and notes from the director

Amazon Price: $27.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content: 4.5 stars, Video 4.5 stars, Audio 4 stars, Extras 4 stars, Replay 4.5 stars (out of 5). Highly Recommended.

Battle of the Warriors (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
If you are looking for something more mainstream, then epics from Hong Kong is a safe place to go. Based on a historical novel by Ken’ichi Sakemi and manga series by Hideki Mori, Battle of the Warriors (also known as A Battle of Wits) was directed by Jacob Cheung. Hong Kong star Andy Lau (Infernal Affairs, The Warlords) has the leading role and he is also great to see in a film.

Set during the Warring States Period of Chinese history, the nation of Zhao attempts to invade the city of Liang. The people of Liang recruit a legendary warrior, Ge Li (Lau) who is known for his defensive skills to lead their defense against destruction.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): N/A
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $15.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com):

Content: 3.5 stars, Video 3.5 stars, Audio 4.5 stars, Extras 3 stars, Replay 3 stars (out of 5). Recommended.

 

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